The face of the young woman at the top of this message may not seem strange or inappropriate in any way. Which is probably what is so extraordinary about it. Do not bother to take a closer look, as you will not find anything. It is the face of a young woman who, in reality, does not exist. Because a computer has generated its face completely from scratch – with tons of similar others, which have a similar appearance, which you can browse on a website configured to show technology, on ThisPersonDoesNotExist. com.
It's a pretty barebone site, in that the goal is right in the title. It's the whole site. An image generated successively by all computer-generated faces (which all look so realistic that it's downright scary) and which you can access by constantly pressing the Refresh button on the page to generate a new face.
Faces like this, of a guy who looks like he wants to do your taxes:
Again, click Refresh on this page to generate an infinite number of new fake human faces like his and many others.
Lest we overvalue this, you will occasionally see a face that looks wrong or false, but the most important point remains. It is frightening to see how artificial intelligence can make us believe that what we see is real. It seems that more and more, technology is questioning this old maxim – that of seeing, is to believe.
The creator of the fake-face site is Philip Wang, a computer engineer at Uber, who apparently used Nvidia's research that was made public last year, as we wrote here. His website uses an algorithm that has been powered by a wide selection of images showing real human faces. By defining markers and noting the different components and variables composing a face, he uses a kind of neural network to generate new faces.
In a post on Facebook, Wang explains that every time you refresh the site, the AI uses a "512-dimensional vector" to generate a new facial image "from scratch".
Of course, the introduction of such technology in a world already confronted with false information and the ability to manipulate text, image, sound, etc. has serious consequences. "As we saw in the discussions on deepfakes," The edge note in an article on the site, "the ability to manipulate and generate realistic large-scale images will have a huge impact on how modern societies think of evidence and trust. Such software could also be extremely useful for creating political propaganda and influence campaigns.
"In other words, ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com is just the polite introduction of this new technology. The brutal awakening comes later.